Samantha Wendell, 29, passed away after contracting coronavirus, according to her family, who spoke to NBC News about their loss.
She lived in the town of Grand Rivers, worked as a surgical technician and was in the middle of planning her wedding to her fiance Austin Eskew. When the vaccine first became available, Wendell was reluctant to get it after hearing speculation it caused infertility, according to NBC News.
Claims about impact on both men and women’s fertility has been disproved by many reproductive health experts, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“We also assure patients that there is no evidence that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility,” it said in a statement about the claims.
In addition, advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported this assessment. A different CDC report found it should be recommended for pregnant women because the risks posed by contracting Covid are much higher than getting vaccinated.
However in July, Wendell changed her mind about the vaccine, and she and Mr Eskew booked an appointment for her first shot of the vaccine in preparation for their Mexico honeymoon. According to her friends and family, she was partly motivated by the spread of the Delta variant, which is believed to be more dangerous to those who are not fully vaccinated.
However, after her bachelorette trip to Nashville, she tested positive along with Mr Eskew, who told the outlet that it was mere days before he and Wendell were due to get their first covid vaccination. Mr Eskew said as Wendell’s infection developed, she was admitted to hospital after she experienced breathing difficulties.
On 16 August, less than a week before her wedding date, she was put on a ventilator. On 10 September, her family were told by medical staff that she was not going to make it. Her family made the decision to turn off her life support machine. Wendell was not understood to have underlying health conditions by her loved ones.
“Misinformation killed her,” her cousin, Maria Vibandor Hayes, told NBC News. “If we can save more lives and families’ lives, then this will be the gift that she left for us to deliver.”
The federal government has also made attempts to tackle misinformation surrounding the pandemic, including falsehoods about the vaccine. Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general said that tackling the problem was a big aspect of driving up rates of vaccination.
In July, he wrote and shared a 22-page advisory on the topic. In addition, he urged social media companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, to act by “limiting the spread of health misinformation is a moral and civic imperative that will require a whole-of-society effort”.
According to a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, cited by President Joe Biden in an address earlier this year, there are 12 profiles on Facebook that are responsible for a majority of most of the misinformation about Covid. The World Health Organization also called the issue an “infodemic”.
Wendell’s family expressed their sorrow and paid tribute to her to NBC News.
Ms Vibandor Hayes told the outlet that Wendell “gave the sweetest hugs” and that she missed her joyfulness.
“Not being able to see that smile, and that giggle was so gut wrenching and traumatic. All I could repeat was, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’”
According to her mother, Jeaneen Wendell, Wendell had asked for vaccine while in hospital.
“It wasn’t going to do any good at that point, obviously. It just weighs heavy on my heart that this could have been easily avoided.”
Her mother also said that her daughter and Mr Eskew were going to get married at the same church, in the town of Lisle in Illinois, that her parents had been married at.
“I was so looking forward to seeing the comparison pictures,” she told the network.
Mr Eskew, the man she was days away from marrying said that they were team.
“She had so much influence in everything that I do,” He told NBC News. “We didn’t really do anything without the other in mind.”
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